Uber X driver accused of rape shared profile with wife

Jason Knowles Image
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Maxime Fohounhedo charged in sex assault of Uber passenger
Maxime Fohounhedo, a former Uber driver charged in the sexual assault of a 22-year-old female passenger, is due in bond court Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An Uber X driver accused of raping his passenger gave her a ride home the next morning and said, 'I made you happy,' prosecutors said.

Maxime Fohounhedo, 33, appeared in court on Tuesday. He is accused of raping a 22-year-old female passenger on November 16, 2014 between 3 and 4 a.m. Fohounhedo picked up the woman at a River North neighborhood and sexually assaulted her inside his vehicle in the 2600-block of West Lawrence Avenue in the city's Ravenswood neighborhood.

Fohounhedo's wife said if anything happened, it was consensual. His public defender said the same on camera.

"That he has evidence that will support his claim and he did not do this and whatever happened was consensual," Sandra Bennewitz, public defender, said.

Fohounhedo appeared on two counts of criminal sex abuse Tuesday. He was arrested a month and a half after the alleged attack.

"The victim was intoxicated and fell asleep in the car," Assistant State's Attorney Robert Mack said.

The victim said she was sexually assaulted in the vehicle and then passed out. She said she eventually woke up in the suspect's Ravenswood apartment he shares with his wife. She said she was raped again on the couch, prosecutors said.

"The defendant left the living room and the victim heard the toilet flush. The victim observed several of the furnishings and electronics inside the apartment as well as a partial lay out of the apartment. The victim got dressed and the defendant helped the victim out of the apartment," Mack said. "The defendant put the victim back into his car and told the victim quote, 'I made you happy.' The victim was dropped off outside of her apartment."

Prosecutors said the victim texted a friend about the incident and was treated at a hospital where a rape assault kit was used.

Fohounhedo has been in the U.S. for three years. He has no criminal background, and is no longer an Uber X driver.

Critics question how Fohounhedo could share an Uber X profile with his wife. Her name was used with his photo and his car, prosecutors said. Fohounhedo has been dropped as a driver, according to Uber, which confirmed he shared an account with his wife.

"That seems very disconcerting to me as a passenger and as an attorney that somebody can try to share an account," Grant Dixon, personal injury trial attorney, said.

Uber said Fohounhedo was not an official driver for the ridesharing company and never went through a background check. The company also said account sharing is "expressly prohibited" and accused the Fohounhedos of committing fraud. Their account was deactivated.

Fohounhedo, from West Africa, has no criminal background in Cook County. His bond is at $500,000. If he posts 10 percent and gets out of jail, he has to turn over his passport and stay away from any ride-sharing service.

VIEW: Mobile message sent from Uber to all riders on Tuesday

READ: Email sent from Uber to all drivers reiterating that account sharing is not allowed

VIEW: Uber-provided infographic on taxi-related crimes vs. Uber-related crimes

Full statement from Uber:

Account sharing is expressly prohibited on the Uber platform. Mr. and Mrs. Fohounhedo committed fraud in this deplorable act and we are exploring all legal options. All details regarding this fraud and Mr. Fohounhedo's illegal activities have been shared with the Chicago Police Department and Uber will continue cooperating with the authorities.

In addition to a zero tolerance policy for account sharing, Uber conducts real-time audits of drivers on the platform, regularly re-checks driver photos and monitors rider feedback on an ongoing basis. We have also initiated research and development on biometrics and voice verification as part of our global safety review and investments.